Franchising is a competitive industry, and exceptional customer service is key. Getting it right every time isn’t easy, but with effort and research, you’ll have all the information you need to improve rates of customer satisfaction with your franchise.
The provision of great customer service can make or break a business, and though the specifics may change between industries and operational sizes, the principles of creating a quality customer experience remain the same. In this article, you’ll discover the importance of a satisfied customer, and you’ll find out exactly how you can ensure your customers are happy and ready to come back for more.
What is customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is the aim of exceptional customer service, and it’s measured by how happy customers are with the products, services and capabilities of your franchise. If you can figure out what satisfies your customers and what doesn’t, you’ll be able to make necessary improvements to the way that you do business.
No matter your sector of operation, your focus as a franchisee (or franchisor) should always be on the contentment of your customers, and on providing a high quality of service to them. Create working customer service strategies by asking yourself:
- When you’re a customer, what do YOU feel is good customer service?
- Who are the customers of your franchise?
- What do your customers need in order to feel satisfied?
Retailers with high customer satisfaction are often underestimated, [and they] have better earnings than most people expect, including their own management.
—Jon Bird, Forbes
The importance of customer satisfaction and exceptional customer service
54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to one year ago, and this percentage jumps to 66% for consumers aged 18-34 [Microsoft]. Meeting customer expectations is crucial to continued customer loyalty, and continually providing customers with quality service will also ensure that:
- Your franchise has a good reputation
- Your franchise continues to profit
- Your employees are treated well by customers
- You maintain competitive edge over similar businesses (with lower service standards)
Since people today have so many buying choices and substitutes, you can no longer afford to ignore the importance of providing great experiences to your customers. Identifying key demands [...], gathering feedback [...] and applying trends will help you improve customer satisfaction – and subsequently generate more revenue and sales.
—Adeel Qayum, Oberlo
Seven tips for providing great customer service
1. Do your market research
Knowledge is power! If you feel your customer service skills are lacking, try to understand why. Effective market research will enable your franchise to discover the needs and wants of its consumers. That way, you can try to tailor your products and services to your customers’ needs, leading to increased levels of satisfaction. You’ll also be able to identify market openings and opportunities, filling niches and needs that had previously gone unmet.
2. Invest in staff training
Inform and train your staff. Even if you have the insights you’ve gathered in tip one at the forefront of your mind, if you fail to share these insights, your franchise won’t benefit much. Well-trained staff are confident staff, able to provide for customers fully and completely. Be clear about the standards of customer care in operation across your business.
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- The Ultimate Guide to Franchising Success
3. Implement customer complaints procedures
No business is perfect, and occasionally, things slip through the cracks. As a result, complaints are made. But what matters more than never receiving a complaint is how your franchise handles complaints. An appropriate and efficient procedure for complaints will provide your employees with an actionable framework and help your customers to feel that action is truly being taken. A well-handled complaint can make all the difference to a customer with an undecided opinion on your business.
4. Provide top quality products and services
In order to minimise the number of complaints and keep satisfaction levels high among customers of your franchise, quality products and/or services are paramount. Whether you’re involved in the day-to-day running of a franchise unit, or oversee your business from a managerial position, you need to know that your products, or services (or both) are as high quality as they possibly can be. And when they’re not, you need to act swiftly to change that.
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5. Know your own offerings inside out
Just as you need to know your offerings are high quality, you need to know them, in general. If you’re seen to be selling customers something that you, yourself, don’t really understand, you’re going to lose trust quickly. Extensive and specific knowledge will make customers feel as if they’re in safe hands, and therefore improve the standard of your customer service provision.
6. Know your own customers inside out
And, again, this point ties into the last. You have to know your products, and you also have to know your customers. What kind of people are they, primarily? And what do they want from your franchise operation? Pay attention to feedback whenever you receive it, and prove whenever you can that you’re interested, invested, and willing to make changes.
7. Follow through on promises, and always be transparent
Don’t hear customer opinions, thoughts and suggestions and then fail to take action on them, or customers will notice and become unhappy. Over half of people firmly believe that companies should be taking action on customer feedback [Microsoft].
Also, if something can’t be achieved or a problem arises, remember that honesty is the best policy. When you hide things, only to have them revealed down the line, your business quickly begins to look untrustworthy, lowering your ability to produce a high level of customer satisfaction.
Quality customer service and franchising success go hand in hand
With these seven tips, and a clear understanding of the immense value of good customer service, you should be able to head out there and get it right in your own franchise. Never forget that your customers are a valuable resource for feedback and learning - nobody knows what they want better than they do.
If you’re not yet a franchisee but this article has piqued your interest and you’re looking to start research, browse Point Franchise’s UK franchise directory for suitable investment options. If you’re already working in the world of franchising, find more actionable tips and important information in Point Franchise’s catalogue of articles.
Cara Squires, Point Franchise ©